MADISON (WSAU) We could find out today whether same-sex couples in Wisconsin will continue to have dozens of legal rights. The state’s Fourth District Appeals Court in Madison is scheduled to rule on a challenge to the state’s domestic partner registry. The Wisconsin Family Action group says the registry violates the state’s constitutional ban against gay marriage and civil unions. It was formed in 2009, and a circuit judge in Madison ruled last year that it’s constitutional.
The registry allows same-sex couples to receive up to one-fifth of the nearly 200 benefits that married couples get in the Badger State. That includes the right for partners to visit each other in hospitals – and to make end-of-life decisions. The case has been kicked around the courts ever since the domestic partner registry took effect – and before. The Family Action group first asked the Supreme Court to strike it down before it could take effect. But the justices said the group had to use the normal channels of going to the circuit court first. After the law was upheld there, Family Action appealed the ruling to the Madison appellate panel – which refused to rule on it, and kicked it upstairs to the Supreme Court. The justices said the appellate court had to make a ruling, and that’s what we expect today, weather permitting.